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President Roh: “I Am Willing to Concede More than Half of My Power”

President Roh: “I Am Willing to Concede More than Half of My Power”

Posted July. 07, 2005 02:29,   


“Letter Politics” by President Roh Moo-hyun is on the move.

Following the message posted on July 5, President Roh also posted a statement to the public titled, “South Korea’s politics is in need of earnest discussions” on the Cheong Wa Dae website on July 6.

This is the fourth letter in the past 10 days after President Roh posted “A letter to the Uri Party members” on the Uri Party homepage on June 27.

“The Current Political Makeup is Not on Track”-

According to Cheong Wa Dae, after his suggestion of “the necessity of gathering the public’s views in a bid to reorganize the power structure” was interpreted as “an attempt in a bid to pave the way to amending the Constitution” and “a silver bullet to turnover the current political situation” on July 5, President Roh issued a statement again on July 6. After reading the morning newspapers on that day, President Roh was said to have begun writing this letter during his work hours and posted it on Cheong Wa Dae website at around 3:30 p.m.

In the letter, President Roh did not mention the hot controversial issue of forming a coalition government at all. Instead, President Roh, while bringing up the matter of the current regional partition, denounced, “South Korea’s politics has been placed on a party makeup that has no value to aim for in the wake of the regional factionalism,” adding, “Since its politics has been carried in the form of emotional wrangles between the political factions, rather than disputes over worth and logic, there has been no place to cultivate a culture of talks and compromise in politics.”

“Having established their vested rights on the abnormal structure, politicians have turned their faces away from the matter of the regional partition, the civic societies have disregarded it, and they have no credit with this because they believe that discussions over it might possibly lead to taking care of politicians’ rights; also academics seems to have looked away from South Korea’s political situation, while being immersed in foreign politics theories,” President Roh revealed his thoughts, saying that he is bothered by the matter of the regional partition.

President Roh stressed, mentioning his remark in his first speech in the National Assembly since taking office, “If the National Assembly agrees to resolve the issue of the regional partition, I will be willing to concede more than half of my authority,” adding, “Even now, if it is possible, I will be willing to yield more than that since I still believe that breaking the regional partition is worth it.”

“First, South Korea Should Revise the Politics, then It Should Throw Its Energy into Economic Recovery”-

On that day, President Roh noted, “In order for the economy to get on the right track, politics should be reorganized first.” Taking an example, “If a mother-in-law blames her son’s wife for repairing the kitchen, saying that it is busy enough in preparing for meals, the daughter-in-law will reply, ‘When we can prepare for meals in a well-equipped kitchen, we can have higher-quality good rice,” President Roh retorted the criticism from the public that “he only devotes himself to the politics, excluding the economy.”

In addition, President Roh also took an example of the politics directly affecting economic policies, saying, “As for real estate policies, they have been revised in consultative meetings between the party and the government and have been significantly amended in the National Assembly, resulting in the reduction of the efficacy of policies.” President Roh appears to have believed that the government’s tight real estate policies have not exerted their own power due to distortion in the political circles. This is being interpreted as another attempt of passing the buck to others.

Why is President Roh Doing Letter Politics?-

It is being interpreted as President Roh’s own style of finalizing an issue that has been raised.

Some point out that President Roh’s letter politics is line with “Internet politics,” which was a critical medium in his bid to gather supporters in the presidential election in 2002.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo noted, “As opposed to other countries, in which they enjoy a style of speech through radio, we aim at directly talking with the public online in accordance with the Internet era.”

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com